WE the People


Fall is usually my favorite time of the year. The air is getting cooler. The sunsets are more majestic. It even begins to smell like pumpkin spice. But this fall came to visit with a little unwelcomed baggage. For almost 15 years, our beautiful coastline has been shielded from major hurricanes…until now. While not everyone took a hit, everyone took a hit by this monster storm because even though many of our homes were left unscathed, thousands lost everything. And when our friends and family just down the road are hurting, we all hurt. Disaster of this magnitude affects us all in one way or another. It abruptly halts everyone’s life. Without question and undeniably, it halts the families and businesses directly hit, but it also indirectly stops for the rest of us as well as we restructure our daily routines to willingly and without hesitation roll up our sleeves to help, dig into our pockets to give, or open our homes to house and help our broken panhandle restore and rebuild their lives. It is truly all hands on deck!

If you have read and followed many of my past contributions to On the Coast, I write from a personal and raw perspective. I write welcoming you into my private world of joys as well, as my trials and my heart is an open book. I really don’t know any other way to be. And this article is no different. I have seen so much destruction and loss at the time of writing this that I needed to share more of my heart. And here it is… I love my small city! I love my panhandle! I love my state! And I love my country! Why? Because WE are the people! I know that’s not quite what you were expecting me to say, but hear me out.

WE come together! We come together as a community, as a state and as a country. There is something weirdly wonderful about what disaster and tragedy brings out in us. It looks you in the face and double-dog dares you to a challenge. And from what I have seen, we the people always accept! Unity happens…compassion conquers, race disappears, hate halts and love abounds! WE happen! I have witnessed such an overwhelming tireless response to help the hurting from countless people and places like our amazing local churches, businesses and restaurants, to major ministries driving in semi-trucks with hurricane relief items, to search-and-rescue organizations, our National Guard and utility workers, to the very hands and feet of our locals being boots on the ground to sort, organize, and deliver. It overwhelms my heart to see us all as one! No one is asking if you are a Democrat or a Republican. No one cares!

The beauty in the ashes is that even as divided as we may seem at times as a nation, we are desperate to be together. We need one another. Life WILL begin again for our friends who lost homes and everything inside them, but the journey will be long and tiring. I keep them in my heart and prayers as I ask you to also because it will be well past Thanksgiving and Christmas before even the lucky ones can find a new normal. Based on the destruction I have seen, it could take years.

This is a gentle reminder to us all that as these holidays rapidly approach and we start thinking about what we will have on our table to eat and who will sit around it, or as we think about the gifts we will buy for our children and family, many will still be figuring out how to get the roof back on their home that is literally sitting on the ground, or the tree out of the window if they even have a home left, and where they will find employment now. WE need to continue to cling. WE need to not forget our families that have been directly affected.

I am reminded of a family that came by on one of my trips to Parker, FL. The mom told me that her daughter turned four the Tuesday before the storm and had gotten several new Barbie dolls for her birthday. By Thursday morning, they were gone. In addition, what they had on their backs were what they had been wearing for the past five days. This is one of so many stories we heard that just takes your heart and rips it right out of your chest. Our surrounding communities have already done and given so much, but we need to continue as the different phases of rebuilding arise.

So please consider how you can help this holiday season. I just know that I don’t need one single thing. Nothing! I would rather use whatever my family would normally spend on me to bless someone else. Maybe you feel the same. Maybe that’s a conversation you could have as a family. Maybe you could provide a new Barbie doll to a little girl who lost hers. By the way, I went back with a couple of dolls the next trip but I didn’t see the family that day…maybe next time. I will keep looking for her sweet smile and give her a small token of hope and maybe a little joy.

There is a scripture in Psalms that says, “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” Of course this isn’t literal regarding time but rather a season of life. So in this season we are approaching, please look for ways to bring some joy and mostly hope back into the hearts of so many who are grieving so much loss. Remind them they are loved and not forgotten. Use this holiday season to bless and show our humanity as well our unity because we care. Because WE are the people!

Art of the Heart

By Crystal Tingle

Have you ever been to a fine art gallery and appreciated the beauty and originality of what is before you? I have …but admittedly there are some pieces that I immediately loved and admired while there are others that I just didn’t get. But I can still say that I appreciated each simply because it is what was in the artists heart and inspiration to create whether I understood it completely or not.  It’s a one of a kind. A masterpiece that says something special…a message or language all it’s own. I have even stepped back a few feet to view from a different perspective or angle to see more, to understand…to know and hear what it is trying to convey so I could love it as much as the others. Sometimes it worked and sometimes not. But the beauty of the artwork and desire of the artist for it to be truly loved and appreciated is still there regardless of my perspective. 

“There is only one happiness in this life, to love and be loved.” George Sand

Much like a painting, our hearts have a unique beauty and message…a language all it’s own. It’s telling a story to the beholder…a story of who I am and how to love me.  A story as unique and special as a fine piece of art…ready to be heard and truly loved by the one who holds it in their hand and is willing to listen.  I admit… I watched a lot of Hallmark channel at Christmas this year and as I as I watched I kept thinking about how fairytale these movies all seemed to be.  No couple lives this way. Can you imagine having the Hallmark life? I mean to be in love…AND to be truly loved in return or at least feeling that way?  And not just a little or kind of …but TRULY loved like the fine piece of art that is adored, appreciated, highly valued and understood.  But it just isn’t real beyond the honeymoon phase! Everyone knows it moves from bliss to blah, doesn’t it?  We blame it on lack of communication and understanding and then say, “that’s just how marriage is” right? Sure there are great moments and occasions but can anyone really be TRULY loved and understood?   I believe the answer is yes! Maybe not quite like Hallmark. Life does happen! But just like the art, each heart is speaking a love language that tells us a story …and it is up to us to figure out how to interpret.   

Have you ever heard the saying, “You are speaking my language”? There is much truth to that. I read a book several years ago that was so eye opening for me in my own marriage.  Yes, much to my families chagrin, I generally write from real life and tell stories on them and in an effort to always better my relationship with my husband and even my children, I read this book called The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman. It will forever stay on my list of highly recommended!  What really put everything into perspective for me was when he explained how we communicate best in our own native language.  Anyone who has traveled to another country understands how difficult it is to communicate when you don’t speak the native dialect.   It’s the same way with our hearts. He believes that there are 5 emotional languages that people speak and conversely how they receive and express love. 


  1. Words of Affirmation – You need to hear verbal words of encouragement, adoration or kindness and it’s just as important to you when your spouse to or in front of other people affirms you as well.

  2. Acts of Service – You heart is full when your honey takes care of things for you. It could be cooking, doing the lawn, paying the bills or running an errand. The list is endless and personal to you but the energy, time and planning required by your spouse to do these things speaks volumes of love.

  3. Receiving Gifts – You need visual symbols of love. You don’t always need purchased gifts. They can be found or made also and sometimes the gift of your spouse just being there is important as well.

  4. Quality Time – This is not simply being around your spouse. You desire focused undistracted attention from them whether you are on a date, doing an activity together or simply having a conversation.

  5. Physical Touch- More than words or gifts, you just need to literally feel your spouse is there. From a back rub to a hug to holding hands in public, you need their gentle touch to know that you are loved.

This is of course a very abbreviated explanation of each language and some people may speak more than one but each person has a distinct primary that we must not only interpret but also learn to speak for a successful shot at truly loving one another. But often, just like with our native language, we try to speak “our” primary love language to our spouse instead of theirs. Thus, communication breaks down …bliss seems like it’s turning to blah…when in fact, that isn’t the case at all. It’s simply a language barrier. It means stepping back a few feet, seeing this masterpiece from a different angle and trying to understand what this fine art is saying. 

Learning each other’s love language, learning how to speak it and recognizing when your spouse is inadvertently speaking to you in their own instead of yours and extending grace in the moment will be key to unlocking the potential masterpiece of experiencing truly loving one another the way each receives it best.  I am not saying to you “do this, learn that” and then promising you the Hallmark life… but I do believe that only when you give your best to something, can you expect to get the best out! Happy translating! 

“Love is when the other person's happiness is more important than your own”. H. Jackson Brown, Jr.